They say health is wealth – and it makes sense to us. If you want to invest in your health today, you’re in the right place, as we’re reviewing the best private health insurance in Ireland.
This guide compares known health insurance providers in Ireland and answers some frequently asked questions about the subject. Let’s begin.
How much is health insurance in Ireland?
According to the recent quarterly report on health insurance by The Health Insurance Authority (HIA), the average adult premium in the country is €1,470.
As of early 2022, Cornmarket.ie lists the following price ranges for different coverage levels.
|Level of cover||Cost per year|
|Basic public and private hospital cover with high excess||€700–€1,000|
|Private room in private hospital||€1,500–€1,800|
|High tech hospitals top cover||€2,400–€4,000|
|Quality public and private hospital cover corporate plan||€1,200–€1,500|
Overview of Basic Health Insurance Policies for an Adult in Ireland
For quick comparison, here’s a table listing the coverages and benefits of selected basic adult plans from each major insurer as of early 2022.
Please note that this isn’t an exhaustive list of coverages and benefits and the quotes given below are before Lifetime Community Rating (LCR) is applied.
You can read more about LCR in the FAQ section.
|Vhi PublicPlus Care||Laya Assure Protect||Irish Life Health Select Starter|
|Hospital cover||Private room cover in public hospitals||Semi-private and day-case in public hospitals||Semi-private and private room in selected public hospitals|
|Adult cost (26 years and above)||€503.78||€518.13||€569|
|Consultant fees||€60 per visit||€40 per visit||€50 per visit|
|Emergency dental care||NA||NA||€250|
|A&E (accident and emergency) charge||2 SwiftCare visits (minor injury clinic), excess of €75||€20 per visit,QuickCare consultations and treatment up to €100 per visit in Laya Healthcare-approved minor injuries and illness centres,Fracture clinic up to €40 per visit in Laya Healthcare-approved minor injuries and illness centres||Minor injury clinic cover of 50% up to €100 per visit (HSE), no excess|
|Out-patient policy limit||NA||€6,500||€2,500|
*Excess is the amount you pay upfront before receiving treatment. The insurer should pay for the rest or according to the amount set on your policy.
Top Health Insurance Providers in Ireland
We reviewed major health insurance providers in Ireland—Vhi, Laya, and Irish Life Health—by looking at their basic plans for an adult, age 26 and above.
To compare the policies, we used the HIA’s health insurance comparison tool available on their website.
We assess the insurers in the following categories:
|HEALTH PLANS||For individuals, couples, young families, older families, and companies|
|ADDRESS||Vhi House, Abbey Street Lower, North City, Dublin, D01 DX77, Ireland|
|OPERATING HOURS||Temporarily closed due to COVID-19 guidelines|
|CUSTOMER SERVICE||★★★☆☆ (3/5)|
|IN-PATIENT BENEFITS||★★★★★ (5/5)|
|OUT-PATIENT BENEFITS||★★★★☆ (4/5)|
Vhi is the largest health insurer in the country. A government-owned company, it was formed under the Voluntary Health Insurance Act in 1957.
Aside from health and dental insurance, they’ve also extended their products to life and travel insurance.
Their basic plan for an adult, PublicPlus Care, is the cheapest among insurers. That’s already one reason to check them out if you’re looking for something affordable.
Their in-patient benefits include psychiatric and maternity cover. They cover up to 100 days of psychiatric facility admission.
As for maternity benefits, they cover up to €400 of the costs in public hospital delivery.
However, we don’t think the last thing is necessary because this should be covered by the public healthcare system. You can read more about this in the FAQ section below.
One notable benefit they offer is [email protected], which provides homecare guided by a hospital consultant or general practitioner (GP). However, this doesn’t mean home treatment is available for all Vhi clients.
This is available for selected patients who have been admitted to a hospital and were granted early release by their doctor to continue their treatment at home.
We think this is beneficial because being in a familiar, comfortable environment, tended by trained professionals as well as family and/or friends can facilitate healing.
Another advantage to choosing this insurer is access to their SwiftCare clinics designed to take care of minor injuries and illnesses. In their basic plan, they provide full cover for two visits, but you may have to pay a €75 excess.
Clients who were treated in their Swords location are satisfied with their efficient and friendly service. In response to the pandemic, be aware that you have to book an appointment before you visit the clinic.
One thing you have to look out for when you choose this insurer, though, are issues with claims. There are instances when receipts are ignored or declined.
They have a Snap & Send feature on their member portal which allows you to upload images of your receipts and fill out a claims form. However, as expected with any service that involves tech, there can be hiccups.
Resorting to their customer support line doesn’t seem to be ideal either. Clients complain about long wait times and multiple back-and-forth with reps until their issue gets sorted.
Overall, we recommend them for their affordable basic plan for an adult and SwiftCare facilities. They’re good for covering minor injuries and illnesses.
“I would highly recommend VHI Health and Travel Insurance as I find them very efficient. I have been a VHI member for over 20 years and have always received first class service and I personally feel safer knowing I am insured with them.” —Caroline Francis, Google review
Lovely to deal with
“I am very happy with my Vhi insurance. I have availed of some of their services on multiple occasions it was excellent and the people are lovely to deal with.” —Joanne Mahon, Google review
|HEALTH PLANS||Advantage suite, Assure suite, Care Select suite, Company Care suite, CompanyHealth suite, Connect Care suite, Control suite, Empower suite, Essential suite, Everyday Health suite, Evolve suite, ExcelCare suite, Flex suite, Future Protect suite, HealthManager suite, Health Secure suite, Inspire suite, Momentum suite, Optimum suite, Power suite, Precision suite, Prime suite, Principle suite, Prosper suite, Signify suite, Simply Connect suite, SimplyHealth suite, Total Health suite, Transform suite, Simplicity suite, 360 Care suite|
|ADDRESS||Eastgate Road, Eastgate Business Park, Little Island, Co Cork, T45 E181, Ireland|
Monday to Friday
8:00 am to 7:00 pm
10:00 am to 3:30 pm
|CUSTOMER SERVICE||★★★★☆ (4/5)|
|IN-PATIENT BENEFITS||★★★★☆ (4/5)|
|OUT-PATIENT BENEFITS||★★★★★ (5/5)|
Laya Healthcare, formerly BUPA Ireland and QUINN-healthcare, is now owned by AIG. It comes second in the ranking of Irish private health insurers by market share.
It was rebranded in 2012 with its current name, which stands for “Looking After You Always.”
Their basic plan for an adult, Assure Protect, offers a high out-patient policy limit, meaning you have more room for out-patient costs. This is helpful when you get hospital treatment that doesn’t require a prolonged stay.
Another notable thing about Assure Protect is that it provides a cancer accommodation benefit as well as full cover for hairpiece and breast prosthesis.
We appreciate that they didn’t overlook the last two items because even though these are aesthetic devices, they can still help boost the confidence of cancer patients who went through drastic physical changes due to chemotherapy or surgery.
Another positive point for this insurer is that they have multiple Health and Wellbeing Clinics and approved urgent care centres. This makes minor injuries and illnesses treatment more accessible for their clients.
Clients who have visited their Cherrywood, Dublin location say their staff is very efficient, although there are a few gripes about their consultation pricing.
Last unique feature we’d like to note about their basic plan is that they partially cover out-patient mental health care. This applies to a limited number of consultations at Dean Clinic or Lois Bridges.
None of the other insurers’ basic plans offer cover for mental health consultations.
Moving on to drawbacks: As with other insurers, most client complaints about Laya are regarding issues with claims. Their customer support line may put you on hold for a while.
But considering the pandemic, their lines may be busy with more people trying to make use of their health insurance.
Overall, we like their basic plan for offering unique benefits such as cancer accommodation and out-patient mental health care. It’s moderately priced, but you can find a cheaper option.
“First time calling the 24hr doc line today and the lady I spoke with was amazing, so kind and reassuring. Gave me loads of advice. Extremely happy with the service and would highly recommend.” —Alison Hogan, Google review
Sorted everything hassle-free
“My daughter got sick. She got checked up really quickly and had surgery as soon as. Layla just sorted everything hassle free. just got letter from hospital today and when I read it I just thought…Thanks Laya, I’m on here as I felt I wanted to just to do just that and say thanks.” —Selina Omeara, Google review
3. Irish Life Health
|HEALTH PLANS||Basic plans, standard plans, day-to-day plans, enhanced plans|
|ADDRESS||Irish Life Centre, Abbey Street Lower, North City, Dublin 1, Ireland|
|CONTACT DETAILS||+353 1 562 5100|
|OPERATING HOURS||Monday to Friday|
9:00 am to 7:00 pm
|CUSTOMER SERVICE||★★★☆☆ (3/5)|
|IN-PATIENT BENEFITS||★★★★☆ (4/5)|
|OUT-PATIENT BENEFITS||★★★★☆ (4/5)|
Irish Life Health is owned by Irish Life Group Ltd, a major provider of life insurance and pension. It’s the youngest among major health insurers in Ireland, having been established in 2016.
Among the unique offerings of this provider are special health plans for nurses, teachers, and students. If you belong to any of these sectors, their plans are worth checking out.
These special plans come at different price points, with the plans for students being the cheapest.
Some of their plans also come with discounts and free travel insurance. So, if you travel often, this insurer may be appealing to you.
More for frequent travellers: their basic adult plan Select Starter also offers an emergency in-patient treatment abroad benefit. Although if you want a higher cover, you may look at Vhi’s basic plan instead.
Some unique benefits that come with Select Starter are emergency dental care and HPV vaccine.
If you don’t have dental insurance yet, this may be a good plan to consider. Although it doesn’t cover routine dental treatments, it’s still handy to have if you need an urgent dental treatment.
Like Vhi, they also offer home service called Health in the Home. With a nurse’s or consultant’s referral, your treatment may continue outside of a hospital.
Some illnesses that can receive clinical care at home under this service are pneumonia, septic arthritis, and urinary tract infection.
The last advantage we’d like to note for this insurer is that they have 19 approved minor injuries clinics throughout the country, making their minor injuries benefits accessible to most clients.
Select Starter’s minor injury clinic cover is comparable to Laya Assure Protect’s and better than Vhi PublicPlus Care’s if you get minor injuries and illnesses often.
As for drawbacks, clients have experiences of poor communication with their customer support. Not all reps seem to be on the same page when it comes to email communication.
Some advise clients who have issues with their online portal to send their complaints through email, while some inform clients that they don’t accept emails.
Some reps also couldn’t provide sufficient explanation for claims rejection.
Overall, although we like that the insurer provides discounts on some plans, they tend to be at the high-end of pricing in the market so the discounts seem to be nullified.
And even though most insurers have shortcomings when it comes to their claims process, theirs seem to be a step more difficult because of poor internal communication.
We suggest you check them out if you’re a frequent traveller because of their free travel insurance. If you’re a nurse, student, or teacher, they also have plans tailored for you.
Went above and beyond to help us
“We have been with Irish Life Health the last 3 years and I have to say it has been the best health insurer we have dealt with in Ireland so far (we have been with 2 other major ones before)…We went through a very tough time health wise 2 years ago and the customer service agents went above and beyond to help us, easing the financial pressure we had at the time.” —honeymonster84, Google review
So far so good
“I was with vhi for years and my company made a recent move to Irish life health. On the corporate plan I have found that everything is pretty comparable to what I had before with VHI. I switched at an awkward time where I was scheduled for a procedure but everything went okay and all approvals were received in good time. Claims were easy to submit and paid quickly so far and the structure of the policy allows me to pick and choose more relevant cover got myself. So far so good anyway.” —Samantha O’Neill, Google review
FAQs about Health Insurance in Ireland
If you want to compare the policies we’ve mentioned on your own, here are the exhaustive lists of coverages and benefits for these plans:
Navigating the private health insurance market can be quite tricky, but we hope this guide made it a little simpler for you.